Posted 1/14/11 : Enforcers insisted on seal of secrecy to protect ongoing investigation
Maryland federal enforcement officials engaged in an important investigation into online gambling financial transactions, asked that court documents on a convicted accused be sealed, the Baltimore City Paper reported this week.
The publication revealed that one Michael Garone was charged, pleaded guilty and was convicted of money laundering for his role in an online gambling business, and was “cooperating with rather extensive undercover operations going on.” The officiating judge agreed that the court documents be sealed.
In the documents, U.S. Attorney Richard Kay said there is “some risk to some of the participants” in the probe, in which Garone’s “identification and his cooperation here is being used as a cover.”
It is claimed that Garone's case involved $7.9 million worth of payouts to poker players who played on Bodog-branded sites prior to 2008. Prosecutors in Maryland and New York secured cooperation from another Maryland defendant charged in connection with an ongoing federal probe of the online gambling industry.
A transcript of Garone's hearing, which occurred over a year ago before US District Judge Catherine Blake, was made available this week on the public terminals at the federal courthouse in Baltimore.
From the documents it appears that US Attorney Kay contended at the time that "there is the need to keep this sealed,” because “any possible leak of his [Garone's] actual cooperation probably would endanger the ongoing undercover operation.”
Judge Blake responded by saying “that seems like a good and sufficient reason to seal these proceedings, at least for the present,” according to the transcript.
The Boston City Paper advises that the case against Garone was unsealed in November 2010, with the motion to unseal stating that his “cooperation is now complete.” On December 20 last year, he was sentenced to one year of probation.